Playdom Pays $3 Million FTC Settlement over Acclaim COPPA Violations

May 14, 2011 -

Disney's wholly-owned social game development studio Playdom has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission a settlement totaling $3 million for its part in collecting the private information of underage customers. The settlement is related to games operated by Acclaim (which Playdom bought last year) that the FTC said violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC claims that 403,000 children registered on Playdom's general audience sites between 2006 and 2010, with an additional 821,000 signing up for kid-friendly MMO Pony Stars.

During that time period Acclaim apparently illegally collected the email addresses of children and didn't provide the proper amount of parental controls.

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Report: FBI, FTC, 22 AG's Looking into PSN Security Breach

April 28, 2011 -

Kotaku has confirmed that the FBI's cybercrimes unit in San Diego has joined two dozen state attorneys general and possibly the Federal Trade Commission in an investigation of Sony's security breach that exposed millions of users' data to hackers.

"The FBI is aware of the reports concerning the alleged intrusion into the Sony on line game server and we have been in contact with Sony concerning this matter," FBI special agent Darrell Foxworth told Kotaku. "We are presently reviewing the available information in an effort to determine the facts and circumstances concerning this alleged criminal activity."

Attorneys general in 22 states are also looking into the PSN fiasco, demanding answers from Sony and asking the company why it took them o long to warn customers of the potential danger. Kotaku says that the 22 states are sharing information with each other.

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ESA Pleased With FTC Findings Too

April 21, 2011 -

Guess who else is doing the happy dance over the FTC’s recent findings that the video game industry continues to surpass all others when it comes to retail enforcement.

That’s right, it’s the Entertainment Software Association, the industry trade group for video game publishers in the U.S.  Said ESA president Michael Gallagher:

“The ESRB is the gold standard. Our self-regulatory system works and this FTC report validates it as being the best in the entertainment industry.  We have an unparalleled commitment to working with parents, retailers, and stakeholders, and will continue to help ensure that this remarkable level of enforcement remains high.”

“Those who would criticize the industry’s commitments are either ignorant of facts or are actively pursuing a political agenda.”

AE:  Ooh, burn!

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EMA Proud of Retailers for Video Game Ratings Enforcement

April 21, 2011 -

Bo Andersen, President & CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association today applauded the efforts of video game and DVD retailers in enforcing ratings systems and keeping adult material out of the hands of teenagers. Both groups did pretty well in the latest "undercover shop" by the Federal Trade Commission, which seeks to identify the level of ratings enforcement by leading video game, DVD, music retailers and movie theaters. Andersen said,

"[The] EMA is pleased with the leading performance of its members in enforcement of the video game ratings and the significant improvement in enforcement of the DVD ratings. The credit for these improvements goes to the individual retailers who have made ratings enforcement a part of their corporate culture, and in the case of video games, the ESRB and their ESRB Retail Council."

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ESRB Pres Pleased By FTC Secret Shopper Survey

April 20, 2011 -

I know what you’re thinking after reading the FTC’s report that once again, the video game industry is kicking the collective butts of all others when it comes to retail enforcement.

You’re thinking, “I bet ESRB president Patricia Vance is extremely pleased by this news.”

And you’re right.  Said Vance to USA Today:

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FTC Undercover Shopper Survey Gives Highest Marks to Video Game Retailers

April 20, 2011 -

The latest Federal Trade Commission undercover shopper survey found that video game retailers continue to enforce the sale of "M-Rated" games to minors better than any other industry. Overall, sales of R-rated movie tickets, R-rated movie DVDs, unrated DVDs, music CDs carrying a Parental Advisory Label (PAL) that warns of explicit content, and video games rated "M" to minors were on the decline.

"Our undercover shopper survey demonstrates some progress," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But more needs to be done."

The FTC recruited 13- to 16-year-olds, unaccompanied by a parent, to attempt to buy media content that was not appropriate for their age groups. The undercover secret shopper program ran from November 2010 to January 2011. Teenagers attempted to buy these products from national and regional chain stores and theaters across the United States.

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Capcom's Smurfs' Village, Zombie Cafe Hit 10 Million Download Mark

March 1, 2011 -

Capcom Mobile announced today that Smurfs' Village and Zombie Cafe have reached a combined total of 10 million downloads on iTunes. This milestone was achieved over four months with the release of Smurfs' Village in November last year, followed by Zombie Cafe in January. Both games have a combined total of 6.5 million monthly active users as well. Smurfs' Village and Zombie Cafe are free-to-play applications that offers social hooks and casual gameplay for players to enjoy. Additional premium content is unlockable through in-app virtual currencies.

Capcom did not disclose how much money has been made off of micro-transactions within the game. Smurfs' Village is of particular interest because it helped spark a Federal Trade Commission investigation into digital purchases after parents complained about their children buying thousands of dollars' worth of smurfberries in Smurf Village.

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FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

February 23, 2011 -

The Federal Trade Commission revealed on Tuesday that it plans to look into "free to play" after several politicians complained about thousands of dollars in transactions initiated unknowingly by young children. The investigation is the result of a letter sent to the agency by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) complaining about children buying virtual items without their parents' consent (hint: it involves Smurf berries).

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz responded to Markey that the practice of in-app purchases in iPhone and iPad games "raised concerns" that consumers may not understand the full ramifications of the charges they might face.

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Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

Top Net Neutrality Expert Joins FTC

February 9, 2011 -

Columbia University law school professor, author of the book "The Master Switch," and the man that coined the phrase "net neutrality," will join the Federal Trade Commission as a senior advisor. Tim Wu will take a leave of absence from the university to take up the new post at the FTC. Wu who is considered one of the country's top net neutrality experts, recently wrote "The Master Switch," a book that examines monopolies in the information communications sector. He is also a former chairman of media reform organization Free Press.

"I think there are critical periods in industry formation where there is a strong need for a public voice" Wu said in a statement. "The Internet platform has given rise to new and hard problems of privacy, data retention, deceptive advertising, billing practices, standard-setting and vertical foreclosure just to name a few."

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FTC Chairman Endorses Net Neutrality Plan

December 15, 2010 -

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz says that he supports the net neutrality proposal put together by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. In an interview with the Huffington Post Leibowitz said the he supports the new proposals, and sees them as the best first step in getting some kind of net neutrality rules in place.

"There's a little disconnect between the reality of net neutrality and the big fight of net neutrality," said Leibowitz, speaking to the critics that believe it is all about government control of the Internet.

The rest of the interview deals with privacy, which the chairman has been vigorously pushing for this month. Read it here.

The FCC votes on net neutrality December 21.

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FTC: Companies Should Do More On Privacy On Their Own

December 13, 2010 -

The Federal Trade Commission says that it wants Internet companies such as Facebook and Google to craft their own solutions to privacy problems, but if they are not capable the agency is ready to do it for them, says its chairman. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz applauded Microsoft for exploring ways to incorporate the agency's recent suggestion for a "Do Not Track" function allowing consumers to opt out of Web tracking.

However, Leibowitz also said that the FTC is not afraid to use its voice and power to publicly shame companies that do not want to allow this functionality to their users.

"The other part of the bully pulpit is — and the commission is not in this position yet — is we can go and call for legislation. And I think many of the companies who want to do the right thing ... would prefer to do it voluntarily," Leibowitz said to POLITICO during a taping of C-SPAN’s "The Communicators."

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ESRB Success in Chart Form

September 16, 2010 -

If you know anyone that thinks that it is easier to get videogames than any other form of media and you don't want to take the time to rattle off a bunch of numbers, then I recommend you look at this simple chart at Ars Technica. This chart shows the percentage of youngsters that have been successful in buying Mature-rated games at retail from 2000 - 2009. That stat line in the chart is contrasted by other stat lines for R-rated movies, music, and DVDs.

What is the shocking conclusion? That video games are harder for children to get than DVDs and music with parental advisory labels. They also have an easier time getting into an R-rated movie, than buying and M-rated game. So where did this data come from? The Federal Trade Commission.

The government - like the State of California - think they can do a better job than what the game industry already does using the ESRB as a guideline, but how can they possibly do better than what the chart shows - according to the FTC?

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Children’s Advocates Call for COPPA Act Reform

July 2, 2010 -

As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) begins a review of its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the connected world becomes ever more connected, a gaggle of advocacy groups is calling for more stringent protections to protect youngsters.

Comments were offered to the FTC (PDF) by groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Children Now and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). The advocates argued that when COPPA was originally passed in 1998, computers were the only means of accessing the Internet. Now, of course, cell phones, videogame machines and even interactive television provide additional ways for children to get online, and “these developments have increased the risks to children’s privacy.”

In a section on videogames, the advocates noted that:

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FTC Backpedals on Newspaper Rescue Plan

June 11, 2010 -

It looks like the folks at the top of the Federal Trade Commission are distancing themselves from the fairly controversial proposal to save the newspaper industry - if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed. The "working paper on reinventing the media" was released on May 24 and widely criticized by most everyone as ludicrous. The report looked at ways to save the newspaper industry by charging fees to news aggregator sites that source newspapers, and taxes on electronics like iPads, laptops and Kindles. Money collected from these and other methods would then be redistributed to traditional media outlets.

So how is the FTC distancing itself from the plan? From the top down. No doubt after seeing a Rasmussen poll that showed a majority of Americans loathed such a plan, the FTC's top man has backpedaled as if he had nothing to do with it at all. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz called the plan to tax devices "a terrible idea." But tax aside, it seem that the FTCV has not abandoned the idea altogether.

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Rasmussen: Americans Hate FTC Plan to Save Newspapers

June 8, 2010 -

You may recall this story on the Federal Trade Commission's plan to save the floundering newspaper industry with taxes on consumer goods. A poll conducted by Rasmussen finds that Americans wholeheartedly reject such a move by a striking margin. The national telephone poll found that 84 percent of those surveyed oppose a 3 percent tax on monthly cell phone bills, while ten percent support it; 76 percent of Americans oppose a 5 percent tax on consumer electronics like computers, iPads, and other electronic devices to support newspapers, while 16 percent support it.

The survey also found that 74 percent of Americans do not like the idea of taxing Internet web sites like the Drudge Report, Reddit or Digg (news aggregators) to support the newspapers they "get their news from." Finally, 71 percent oppose the creation of a taxpayer funded program to hire young reporters for newspapers around the country.

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First Online Pass Enabled Game in Stores

June 8, 2010 -

The first test of EA's Online Pass begins soon, with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in stores nationwide. Of course the real test won't begin until first-time buyers dump their shiny new copies of EA's golf game back into retails stores like GameStop and used game buyers either buy it or boycott it. In case you haven't been following EA's Online Pass, it is a serial code based system for Xbox 360 and PS3 sports games from EA Sports that charges used game buyers $10 to access online play.

While the industry and angry consumers await the results of this little experiment, Joystiq's Law of the Game points out that game publishers maybe playing with a fire they can't put out: government regulation. Here's a sample, though there are more points worth reading in the rest of this article:

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Tax on Consumer Electronics Could Help Bail Out Newspapers

June 4, 2010 -

As preposterous as it sounds, you, the consumer, could be tasked with bailing out the newspaper business by way of a tax implemented on electronic devices.

A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) look into “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism” (PDF, thanks Kotaku) addresses the “challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age.” Noting that “The news is a ‘public good’ in economic terms,” the report adds that “it is often difficult to ensure that producers of public goods are appropriately compensated.”

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MSU Professor Backs California in Upcoming Videogame Law Fight

May 28, 2010 -

In what can only be categorized as "no great shock to our readership," Michigan State University law professor Kevin Saunders will help the state of California when the Supreme Court revisits Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association later this year. Saunders will help co-author an amicus brief to help California’s position when arguing its case before the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2010-11 session, which begins in October. As you probably already know, Saunders testified during the 2005 California State Assembly Judiciary Committee hearings on the issue at the invitation of Leland Yee. His arguments were obviously against the industry and for the law written by Yee.

Saunders' statements on the matter almost sound like the ECA's, EMA’s or the ESA's position:

"Parents need to play an active role in deciding what is appropriate for their children."

No disagreement there. But then he makes it sound as if the law helps to insure that universal truth:

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Pending Legislation Could Boost FTC Net Power

April 30, 2010 -

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to lick its wounds following a recent court loss to Comcast, a provision could emerge from financial overhaul legislation that would boost the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) governing ability over the Internet.

The Washington Post reports that a current version of regulatory overhaul legislation passed by the House would, “allow the FTC to issue rules on a fast track and permit the agency to impose civil penalties on companies that hurt consumers.”

The Post notes that, while such a provision is absent from current legislation before the Senate, “some observers expect the measure to be included when the House and Senate versions are combined.”

Why some groups believe the FTC's power should be expanded:

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FTC Mulls Changes to Child Online Protection Act

March 24, 2010 -

In order to keep its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in line with advances in technology, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking comments from the public on whether updates to the law are necessary or not.

COPPA focuses on how website operators or online services deal with the personal information of kids younger than 13. Currently, it requires that third-parties must notify and receive permission from parents before “collecting, using, or disclosing” such info. Additionally, it requires that the information be kept secure and limits operators from collecting “any more personal information than is reasonably necessary.”

One specific area that the FTC is seeking public comment on is:

What implications for COPPA enforcement are raised by mobile communications, interactive television, interactive gaming, or other similar interactive media.

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FTC Complaints: Where do Games Rank?

February 24, 2010 -

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a list (PDF) of the top complaints that consumers filed with the agency for the 2009 calendar year.

The category of videogames came in at number 30 on the list, totaling 1,185 complaints during the year, or .00089 percent of all complaints filed during the year (1,330,426). Videogame-related complaints were related to “problems with videogame companies, defective products, billing or collection, contracts, customer service, delivery, guarantees or warrantees, repairs and service.”

Complaints in the category have, however, risen over the years, from 694 in 2007 to 1,073 in 2008.

This year’s top complaint was about identify theft, which made up a whopping 21.0 percent of all complaints with 278,078 consumer inquires on the subject.

The FTC has also released an animated video to show consumers how to file a complaint.

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FTC: Virtual Worlds Offer Real Explicit Content to Minors

December 10, 2009 -

A congressionally-mandated Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report looks into the availability of sexually and violently explicit content in online worlds to minors.

Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks examined 27 virtual online worlds, including Second Life, Build A Bearville, IMVU, Neopets, Runescape, There and YoVille. Selected worlds investigated ran the gamut from those intended for kids to those aimed at adults only.

At least one instance of sexually or violently explicit content was found in 19 of the 27 virtual worlds, with five labeled as having a “heavy” amount of explicit content, four containing a “moderate” amount, while a “low” amount was found in 10 virtual worlds.

Kid-oriented (designed for children ages 13 and under) virtual worlds fared a little better, with seven featuring no explicit content, six featuring a “low” amount and a single world labeled as having “moderate” explicit content.

The report also examined the ways in which virtual worlds designed for older teens or adults kept out younger children. It was found that “most” worlds used an age-screening mechanism tied to a birth date entered in the registration process and half of these worlds did not accept kids who re-registered on the same computer using a modified birth date.

The Commission recommended five steps for virtual world operators to take in order to limit the exposure of kids to explicit content:

  • Ensuring that the age-screening mechanisms virtual world operators employ do not encourage underage registration;

  • Implementing or strengthening age-segregation techniques to help ensure that minors and adults interact only with their peers and view only age-appropriate material;

  • Re-examining the strength of language filters to ensure that such filters detect and eliminate communications that violate online virtual worlds’ conduct standards;

  • Providing greater guidance to community enforcers in online virtual worlds so that they are better equipped to: self-police virtual worlds by reviewing and rating online content; report the presence of potential underage users; and comment on users who otherwise appear to be violating a world’s terms of behavior; and,

  • Employing a staff of specially trained moderators whose presence is well known in-world and who are equipped to take swift action against conduct violations.


What defines explicit? The Commission developed its own factors, looking to Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating criteria.

The full report, in PDF form, can be grabbed here.

26 comments

Game Industry Scores Well in FTC Report

December 3, 2009 -

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) seventh report on Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children (PDF) contains good news for the videogame industry.

The FTC review labeled the games industry the "strongest” of the three entertainment sectors (games, music and movies), when it came to self-regulation. The Commission added that the game industry “did not specifically target M-rated games to teens or T-rated games to younger children.“ Additionally, compliance with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) code within the videogame industry was “high in all media.”

Undercover shopping stings run by the FTC reported that retailers were “strongly enforcing” age restrictions for M-rated games, with “an average denial rate of 80%.” GameStop and Target were labeled as top enforcers. Toys R Us however, was specifically labeled as trailing when it came to enforcement, with only a 56% denial rate. The report called the use of gift cards to buy games online a “potential gap in enforcement.”

On the advertising side, the FTC found that game companies demonstrated a “high degree of compliance” when it came to television ads, with only a “few instances” of non compliance over a more than two-year period. The same description was used to depict compliance with videogame print ads.

FTC suggestions aimed directly at the game industry were adding content descriptors to the front of videogames, alongside ratings, and to continue to provide more detailed rating summaries online for parents. Additionally, all three industries were told to pay more attention to compliance within online and viral marketing campaigns.

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) President and CEO Michael D. Gallagher was understandably happy about the report, saying, "Today's FTC report is a strong acknowledgement and validation that industry-led self-regulation efforts are the best way to provide parents and retailers with the resources and support they need to keep our kids' entertainment experiences suitable."

The ESA press release also included a quote from National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) head, Dr. David Walsh, who stated, “We join the FTC in applauding the industry's progress. The advancement in technology including parental controls by console makers, identification checking by retailers, and an ongoing effort to improve ratings illustrates that the members of the video game industry have taken our concerns seriously and continue to make sure that kids enjoy games that are age appropriate."

18 comments

FTC: Freebies Must Be Disclosed

October 5, 2009 -

The Federal Trade Commission passed down a ruling today that could have some impact on the way video game reviews sites and bloggers do business.

The FTC, in a 4-0 ruling, said that "material connections" between advertisers and endorsers (such as payments or free products) "must be disclosed."

The hook seems to be the phrasing that "connections that consumers would not expect." Hardcore video game readers tend to be a jaded lot, and think that many sites are on the take for good reviews any way, whether they are or not. Most understand that sites get free games to review. But the general consumer may not know this.

The ruling also broadened the existing guidelines to cover bloggers:

[The new rules] address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

The FTC did not rule that bloggers or companies must disclose any conflicts of interest.

There has always been a blurred line when sites accept advertising from game publishers and then review their products. Those same sites get free games and swag as part of review packages from publishers. Some sites do disclose this information, but most don't.

GamePolitics has contacted the FTC to see if these new rules extend to the video game arena. We'll update with a response when we get it.

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At Shareholders Meeting, Target Gets Targeted by PTC Over Violent Games

May 29, 2009 -

Watchdog group the Parents Television Council lashed out at Target this week during the retailer's annual shareholder meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

According to a PTC press release, Bob Sherman, director of the organization's Chicago grassroots chapter, called out Target executives over a 2008 secret shopper sting. In that operation the PTC says that minors were able to purchase M-rated games 41% of the time at Target stores. Sherman told the execs and assembled shareholders:

On average our volunteers, all between the ages of 11 and 16, were able to purchase video games rated ‘M’ by the ESRB for mature content 36% of the time.  Target stores fared worse than the average – underage children were able to purchase M-rated video games at Target stores a stunning 41% of the time.  Parents have the right to expect that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level...

Target represents families to so many consumers.  Your advertising and community good works reflect how Target is embedded in our lives.  The Parents Television Council is eager and ready to work with you to address this industry-wide dilemma.

Sherman and the PTC also slammed Target for selling mature-themed DVDs to underage buyers.

In contrast to the PTC's numbers, the most recent secret shopper survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that underage buyers of M-rated games were successful only 29% of the time at Target.

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Congress Awaits FTC Report on Explicit Content in Virtual Worlds

May 11, 2009 -

At the behest of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into children's access to explicit content in virtual worlds.

That word comes by way of Virtual Worlds News which spoke to a pair of FTC attorneys last week. The regulatory agency's report on its findings is scheduled to be presented to Congress in December.

GamePolitics readers may recall that in 2008 Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) called on  the FTC to issue a parental alert about the virtual sex occurring in Second Life:

Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.

VWN notes that Second Life publisher Linden Lab recently announced a plan to restrict underage SL users from accessing mature content.

Via: Massively

56 comments

Mobile Games Biz Blew Opportunity to Lobby FTC

April 24, 2009 -

Mobile game makers missed a chance to get their issues on the Federal Trade Commission's radar, according to a telecommunications lawyer who tracks game issues.

Writing for Gamasutra, Steve Augustino (left) notes that a just-issued FTC report, Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace, devotes but a single paragraph - out of 54 pages - to mobile gaming. The report is the result of a two day FTC town hall conference held in May, 2008.

From Augustino's article:

There is no discussion of app stores, of the impact of the carrier deck, of other handsets as gaming platforms... of innovative games taking advantage of location capabilities of phones, or any other significant development in the mobile gaming marketplace.

There also was no discussion of the PSP, DS or DSi and the implications that wi-fi and VoIP create... It’s too bad, for this would have been a good opportunity to paint a fuller picture of the games industry and also could have been a vehicle for addressing impediments to the further growth of the platform.

Augustino doesn't blame government bureaucrats for the oversight. Instead, he faults the mobile game industry for failing to take the initiative. He told GamePolitics:

I do not fault the FTC. They organized this conference based on the entities that they knew about or that expressed an interest in participating.  My point is that the games industry is being silent and that the silence could harm them.  Too much of what the industry does is defensive... The industry cannot win if it always plays defense. 

 

I think the FTC "Mapping the Mobile Marketplace" is an example of a missed opportunity for the industry to discuss its successes and to present a different image to the policy makers.

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Report: GameStop Loans Games to Employees, Sells Them as New

April 10, 2009 -

Kotaku reports that a GameStop corporate policy of selling games played by store employees as brand-new may be a violation of federal law:

GameStop's "check-out" policy, confirmed to Kotaku by a number of the chain's managers and employees, could fall under scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission.

Kotaku cites GameStop's policy, which it reports that it obtained from several employees of the leading video game retailer:

Associates are allowed to check out one item of store merchandise for personal use for up to four days. Merchandise checkout is a privilege, not a right, and may be revoked at any time...

If the product is returned in unsellable condition, or if anything is missing from the package, or if the product is not returned, the Associate must purchase the product...

When asked by Kotaku, the Federal Trade Commission declined to say whether GameStop's practice of selling employee-played games as new might be considered deceptive. The FTC also declined to say whether it was looking into the practice.

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Hal Halpin, ECA on Hand For Today's FTC Town Hall Meeting on DRM in Seattle

March 25, 2009 -

The Federal Trade Commission's much-anticipated Town Hall Meeting on digital rights management (DRM) will take place today at the University of Washington Law School in Seattle.

The all-day event begins at 8:30 A.M. Pacific and will be webcast live.

Among other participants, Entertainment Consumers Association President Hal Halpin will serve on the 1:15 P.M. panel "Informing Consumers." According to the FTC's agenda, "This panel will discuss how companies communicate the existence and effects of DRM protections on products and services to consumers. It will explore ways of providing consumers with better notice."

In advance of his panel appearance, Halpin issued a statement on the Town Hall Meeting:

Over the past year we have witnessed a growing concern from gamers about the issues of increasingly invasive Digital Rights Management (DRM) and End User Licensing Agreements (EULAs). While we respect the careful balance that must exist between the content community and the customer, and agree that piracy is an ever-present challenge for the trade, it is also becoming evident that consumer rights are being diminished in the process...

The law, in the area of EULAs in particular, is not as clear as it once was. And the software industry’s potential side-stepping of the First Sale Doctrine’s protections – by terming their products as “licensed” rather than “sold” - leaves us concerned about the future of interactive entertainment, generally...

Halpin also noted that the ECA is preparing new position statements on both DRM and EULAs. You can read the full text of his statement here.

Among others known to be appearing at the Town Hall on behalf of consumers is Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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Sleaker@james_fudge - hopefully that's the case, but I wont hold my breath for it to happen.07/25/2014 - 1:08pm
SleakerUpdate on crytek situation is a bit ambiguous, but I'm glad they finally said something: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-07-25-crytek-addresses-financial-situation07/25/2014 - 1:07pm
E. Zachary KnightMan Atlas, Why do you not want me to have any money? Why? http://www.atlus.com/tears2/07/25/2014 - 12:06pm
Matthew WilsonI agree with that07/25/2014 - 10:45am
james_fudgeI think Twitch will have more of an impact on how YouTube/Google Plus work than the other way around.07/25/2014 - 10:22am
IanCWelp, twitch is going to suck now. Thanks google.07/25/2014 - 6:30am
Sleaker@MP - Looked up hitbox, thanks.07/24/2014 - 9:40pm
Matthew WilsonI agree, but to me given other known alternatives google seems to the the best option.07/24/2014 - 6:30pm
Andrew EisenTo be clear, I have no problem with Google buying it, I'm just concerned it will make a slew of objectively, quantifiably bad changes to Twitch just as it's done with YouTube over the years.07/24/2014 - 6:28pm
Matthew WilsonI doubt yahoo has the resources to pull it off, and I not just talking about money.07/24/2014 - 6:15pm
SleakerI wouldn't have minded a Yahoo purchase, probably would have been a better deal than Tumblr seeing as they paid the same for it...07/24/2014 - 6:13pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's the golden age of Hitbox, I guess.07/24/2014 - 6:08pm
Matthew Wilsonagain twitch was going to get bought. It was just who was going to buy it . Twitch was not even being able to handle the demand, so hey needed a company with allot of infrastructure to help them. I can understand why you would not want Google to buy it .07/24/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew Eisen"Google is better than MS or Amazon" Wow. Google, as I mentioned earlier, progressively makes almost everything worse and yet there are still two lesser options. Again, wow!07/24/2014 - 5:43pm
Andrew EisenI don't know. MS, in my experience, is about 50/50 on its products. It's either fine or it's unusable crap. Amazon, well... I've never had a problem buying anything from them but I don't use any of their products or services so I couldn't really say.07/24/2014 - 5:42pm
Matthew WilsonGoogle is better than MS or Amazon.07/24/2014 - 5:33pm
Sleaker@AE - I've never seen youtube as a great portal to interact with people from a comment perspective. like ever. The whole interface doesn't really promote that.07/24/2014 - 5:28pm
Andrew EisenNor I. From a content producer's perspective, almost every change Google implements makes the service more cumbersome to use. It's why I set up a Facebook fan page in the first place; it was becoming too difficult to connect with my viewers on YouTube.07/24/2014 - 4:50pm
Sleakerwonder if anyone is going to try and compete with google, I'm not a huge fan of the way they manage their video services.07/24/2014 - 4:41pm
Andrew EisenIt happened. Google bought Twitch. http://venturebeat.com/2014/07/24/googles-1b-purchase-of-twitch-confirmed-joins-youtube-for-new-video-empire/07/24/2014 - 4:28pm
 

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